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Because the vision of JCFI is to raise a greater awareness of Israel in the churches of Johnson County, we want to connect you to some of our friends who work to bless Israel.

This month I want to share an insightful testimony from Dr. Theresa Newell, CMJ Ministry

Cleaning Up Cracker Crumbs!
A Story About Passover
 
Passover is about freedom. However, how does this freedom work when one is admonished to keep the 613 commandments in Torah? The answer is, "Choose life. Freedom is choosing to do things God's way as set forth in the Bible." This was the answer given by Hasidic Rabbi L. in his lecture that I attended a week before Passover.
 
A week before his lecture, a headline in our local paper caught my eye: "Cleaning up cracker crumbs!" There was a photo with the article of a kind face of an older rabbi with black hat and flowing gray beard. The rabbi was scheduled to give a teaching entitled "What is Freedom: Preparing for Passover."
 
An opportunity not to be passed up! Rabbi L. was animated, energized and clearly up to the task before the mixed Jewish-gentile audience of about 60--in an auditorium with men seated to the left and women to the right (which the rabbi said had to do with "holiness," but that was a subject of another lecture).
 
In a most winsome way, the rabbi made the following points:

1.  The Exodus event happened just as Moses recounted it in Torah. The proof of

this is that: a) it is written down and is in THE Book which is the best-seller of all times;  b) it has been verbally handed down from generation to generation; and  c) it is remembered several times daily by religious Jews in morning and evening prayers, in Shabbat service prayers weekly, at major feast celebrations throughout the year and always at Passover once a year.

 

2. The Children of Israel's Exodus from Egypt is the most important reality for

the Jewish people. In giving the Ten Commandments, God identified Himself not as "the God who created the universe," but as "the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). (The orthodox count the number of laws in Torah as 613! A Methodist lady sitting next to me said, "I thought there were just ten! Is that in our Bible?!")

 

3. The purpose for God's delivering His people out of slavery? To worship and

serve Him! At the burning bush, God said to Moses: "When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain" (Exodus 3:12). And again, "Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God" (Exodus 3:18).

4. Why do we keep telling this story over and over again? To pass on to the next

generations God's great deliverance of his people. There are other "reminders" as well: the mezuzot on the doorposts of the house with Scripture inside, which a Jewish person passes as he goes in and out. This is a reminder of the blood put on the doorposts of the houses on the first Passover in Egypt, which caused the angel of death to pass over the houses with blood. The tzittzit or fringes that the religious Jewish man wears (Numbers 15:37-39) remind him of the Law given at Sinai on the 50th day after the Israelites left Egypt.

 

5. The four cups of wine drunk at a Passover Seder meal are called the "four 

languages of freedom," taken from Exodus 6:6-8:

 

>I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians;

>I will free you from being slaves to them;

>I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of

            judgment;
>I will take you as my own people and I will be your God.

But what is Freedom?   A learned and revered rabbi of Prague said there were four stages of freedom reflecting the four biblical promises of God:
>Removal from oppression
>Removal from a slave mentality
>Physical freedom, i.e. getting out of the land
>Becoming a "new man" --finding a new direction and goal in life.

The one biblical command to be obeyed at a Seder meal is this: You must eat matza or unleavened bread (Exodus 12: 14, 15). The rest of the symbolic foods are traditional.
 
Which brings up those cracker crumbs! Why can there be not a crumb of leaven in the house at Pesach? Not a crumb that can be seen or anything mixed with leaven? The Rabbi's answer: "Leaven is a symbol of the human heart. Like yeast puffs dough up, so pride and haughtiness puffs man up." And, by the way, what does Torah call Moses? "The meekest of all men," and what does his eulogy call him? "The servant of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 34:5). Rabbis see Moses as a man without leaven.
 
There is so much richness we can learn from teachers like Rabbi L., who are steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures, especially the first five books of the Bible, i.e., Torah. The evening provided a stimulating Bible study with a blend of humor, stories of rabbis from the past, and a peep into the thinking of Hasidic Jewish Torah teaching.
 
As the rabbi spoke through those 90 or so minutes on "Freedom and the Passover," my mind was running through the writings of the Jewish writers of the Brit Chadasha, i.e., the Newer Testament. For them, too, the Passover was the seminal story of their people. The chosen twelve had spent their last night with their Rabbi Yeshua at a Passover Seder meal at which he had washed their feet. Jesus is truly God's Servant and a Man without leaven. He explained to the Disciples how His body and blood was symbolized in the meal -- that matza and the third "cup of redemption." How I longed for this dear rabbi to know "the rest of the story."
 
Another rabbi known as Shaul (Paul) had this same longing for his Jewish people to know the truth of the true Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for them -- once for all. When the discussion came to the lamb's blood and the sacrifice of that lamb at that first Passover in Egypt, Rabbi L brushed it aside with the words, "We will skip the part about the sacrifice"! I wanted to scream: "But the lamb is the central player of the story!!"
 
Paul had studied under the most renowned rabbis of his day. He self-identified as "circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, in regard to the law, a Pharisee..." (Philippians 3: 5). His letters to the churches are filled with quotes, applications and illustrations of his learning from the Hebrew Scriptures.
 
Paul's anguish for his unsaved Jewish brothers broke his heart (Romans 9: 1-4; 10: 1). He explained their blindness this way: "to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Messiah is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their heart. But whenever anyone turns to the LORD, the veil is taken away. Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3: 14-17).
 
Paul, like Rabbi L., commented about "leaven." Speaking to the situation of an immoral brother in the Corinthian church, which the church was tolerating in its fellowship, Paul used the same metaphor for "yeast": "Your boasting [being puffed up] is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are. For Messiah our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth" 
(1 Corinthians 5: 6-8).
 
Remarking on the Deuteronomy passage re: Moses' title as servant, the writer of the Book of Hebrews acknowledges that "Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house . . . but Messiah is faithful as a son over God's house" (Heb.3: 5, 6).
 
As to the topic of ultimate freedom, John recorded: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' " (John 8: 31, 32). 
 
While there is much we can learn from pious rabbis of our day, we must keep in mind that Jesus "is the stone the builders rejected [which] has become the capstone" (Psalm 118:22). May this time of Passover, which Jews worldwide will be celebrating around their tables this week, cause us to pray fervently for the veil to be lifted from their eyes as they read the story of Freedom at Seder meals. May they see Jesus their Messiah!

 

Ancient Figurine Discovered by 7 Year Old Boy

Archaeology and the Bible are not at odds. Here is another story about a recent find, among hundreds of archaeological evidences in Israel, that supports the Biblical record. Before reading on, you may want to first study about the "household gods" or "trafim" of Genesis 31 that Rachel stole from Laban.

 
A 3,400 year old statue was recently uncovered by a 7-year-old boy while on an outing with friends. Seven year old Ori Greenhut, from the communal settlement of Tel Te'omin in the Beit She ʽ an Valley, went out on a trip earlier this week with friends, accompanied by the father of one of the children. While they were climbing up the archaeological mound at Tel Rehov, Ori came across a stone that had shifted and suddenly saw an image of a person covered with soil. Ori rubbed away the mud that adhered to the object and thus discovered the clay figurine.

Moriya Greenhut, Ori's mother, says. "Ori returned home with the impressive figurine and the excitement was great. We explained to him this is an ancient artifact and that archaeological finds belong to the State".

The Greenhut family turned the find over to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and representatives of the IAA came to the Shaked Elementary School in Kibbutz Sede Eliyahu in order to present Ori with a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship and tell him what they know about the figurine. Esther Ledell, Ori's teacher, said, "It was an amazing occasion! The archaeologists entered the class during a Torah lesson, just when we were learning about Rahel (Rachel) stealing her father's household gods (trafim; Genesis 31). I explained that the household gods were statues that were used in idol worship, and all of a sudden I realize that these very same idols are here in the classroom!"
 
The clay figurine portrays a naked standing woman which was prepared by pressing soft clay into a mold.
 
Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov, examined the figurine and stated, "It is typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th-13th centuries BCE. Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh and blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible. It is highly likely that the term "trafim" mentioned in the Bible indeed refers to figurines of this kind". Mazar added, "Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs."
 
Proverbs 30:5 "Every word of God is flawless..."


BOH Logo with text
Bridge of Hope Update... 
We Are Growing ! 
                  
One way JCFI raises awareness of Israel's role today is through building a Bridge of Hope (BOH).  A Bridge of Hope is a "bridge" built between a Church or organization of Johnson County and a Congregation, Home Group, Faith-Based Organization, or Individual within Israel. At JCFI we currently have 24 Congregational BOH's and 5 Organizational BOHs  that are up-and-running with MANY in the process. The BOH project is blessing people both in Israel and here in Johnson County as it provides connection through fellowship, prayer support, educational exchange, and more.  (Click  HERE  for more info)

We would love to hook you up!  I am Skyping almost weekly with those in the Land who are eager to link up in a "sister" relationship with a congregation or organization in Johnson County.  Be in prayer for us as we establish new connections with ministries in Israel that desperately need our support and prayer.   
If your church would like to know more about becoming a BOH to a congregation in Israel, click  HERE or contact me by phone at 817-556-1061 / by email at bentley_kevin@sbcglobal.net.

  Let's build a Bridge together as we stand For Israel!

            
              
An Update from Melech Hamelachim 
(King of Kings)

In the process of raising awareness of Israel in Johnson County, I would like to help you get better acquainted with a few Believers in the Land. Oded and Sandy Shoshani lead a group of Believers in Jerusalem, Melech Hamelahcim (King of Kings). This 
congregation is a BOH partner with Pastor Todd Barham and Hope Church. Here is a recent update from the Shoshanis.


"For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land." -Song of Solomon 2:11-12
 
We are so thankful for the new things God is doing in our midst this season, and we wanted to share one story especially with you.
 
 "E", a woman in our congregation, is friends with a secular couple who were in the middle of an extreme life crisis. Recently, the wife, "H", came to "E's" house, in deep turmoil and "E" prayed with her for a long time. The next day, "H" and her husband, "J", came together to "E's" house, and met with her as well as another ministry couple. "J" and "H" had hit complete rock bottom. During this meeting, they both radically came to faith! They are now passionately pursing Yeshua, but they are still working through many issues. This couple is continuing to meet with a ministry couple for discipling. They are reading the Scriptures, dreaming dreams, experiencing miracles in their life, and being transformed daily. The wife even visited the congregation this past Friday. Please pray that they would continue to grow, work through issues and sin in their life, and that the Lord would bring full restoration to their lives. Pray that their roots would grow deep and strong in the Lord.
 
Prayer & Thanks
 
In our December prayer update, we mentioned "J", a congregant who leads an international ministry. He was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and the doctor's evaluation was grim. The congregation devotedly prayed in faith for his healing. He ended up undergoing surgery, and by the grace of God, the surgeons successfully removed the cancer. Praise the Lord! We are so thankful to serve such a kind and all-powerful Creator. "J's" condition now is steady, but his body is still recuperating from the intense surgery. Please continue to pray for his complete recovery and return to full health and strength.
 
At the congregation, we recently finished a three-part series on dating and marriage. The goal of the series was to cover all the stages one experiences while journeying to marriage, including marriage itself. We believe it is important that the teenagers, soldiers, and young adults are equipped on this topic. Additionally, the teaching was also relevant for the parents and older generations as it assists them to be able to better relate to the younger generation and help guide them.
 
In fact, there have been a few weddings of
members of the congrega tion recently. It is a joy to journey with the  couples through the process leading up to ma rriage. Oded met with the couples for counseling beforehand and even had the honor of officiating a couple of the ceremonies.
   
Thank you for praying for the three young adults that participated in a medical outreach in Ethiopia. It was their first outreach, and for each of them it was a personally transformative experience. The Messianic-run clinic they volunteered with treated almost 12,000 villagers within five days. Via the provision of medical aid, they were living witnesses of Yeshua, being a "light to the nations". The villagers were so blessed and truly thankful for the help given out of pure lov e. They were open to hear about Yeshua, and many seeds were planted. The  three young adults were greatly blessed, not ju st by the opportunity to give and serve, but also by how much God revealed to them, taught them, and touched their lives. Just of a few of the treasures they gained from the outreach were: true gratefulness, a deeper understanding of Yeshua's unconditional love, the spirit of adoption, purposefulness in life, unity in the body, and much more . 

They all want to go back soon and take more of th eir friends with them! 

On Saturday, March 5th, the three teenagers mentioned in the last couple of prayer updates will be getting baptized. We are excited to witness young ones committing their life to the Lord and His kingdom. Please pray for them that: their hearts would be at peace and filled with confidence as they approach their baptism, that this would be a transformative step in their lives as well as the life of the congregation, and for the Lord's protection over the them and their families.
   
Thank you for continually praying for Melech Hamelachim (King of Kings)! We thank God for you and your faithfulness.

Many Blessings,
Oded & Sandy Shoshani

  Until we are all ONE! (Eph.2:15) !


JORDAN SAYS CAMERAS TO BE INSTALLED ON TEMPLE MOUNT WITHIN DAYS

A Jordanian government spokesperson has said that Amman will install cameras on the Temple Mount "within days." The site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims is a flashpoint in Jerusalem's Old City. Palestinians' [unfounded] belief that Israel is trying to change the status quo on the mount has been behind ongoing Palestinian knifing and other terrorist attacks, plus much of the recent tension in the city. This tension led to discussions between the USA, Israel and Jordan over how to scale down the level of conflict over the site, which led to the suggestion of the CCTV cameras. The goal is to live-stream the footage from the compound. The talks had been deadlocked over a number of practical issues, including to whom the footage will be broadcast and where within the compound the cameras will be placed. Senior Israeli officials had been concerned that a failure to install the cameras ahead of Passover, which will commence at the end of April, could spark clashes at what is traditionally a time of heightened tensions and an increased number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. 
Please begin to pray now that the city of Jerusalem will be free from terrorist violence and riots as the Passover holidays approach and many visitors will be in the city to celebrate this important Biblical holiday.

Recom Reading List Logomended Reading

This month JCFI encourages you to get a copy of:

by Alfred Edersheim (One of the best known and important references on the life of Christ)


Hebrew Helps
As we work to build a greater awareness of Israel in Johnson County and continue to connect to Believers and Jews in the Land, we are often ask, "What does that word mean?".  So, each month at JCFI we will ad to a glossary of terms to help broaden our Hebrew vocabulary. Please, enjoy this Hebrew Help and contact us with any definitions you think we should ad.


This month's Hebrew Help definition is:
 
Pesach (pay' sahk) or Passover

The deliverance of the Israelites from the worst of the plagues of Egypt, and the annual festival kept afterward in memory of the event. Through Moses, God told the Israelites to prepare a special meal to be eaten in haste the evening before their escape from Egypt (see Exodus ), with a whole roasted lamb as the main dish. The blood from the lamb was to be used to mark the Israelites' houses. That night, God would send the angel of Death to kill the firstborn males of the Egyptians (this was the worst of the plagues of Egypt), but God would see the blood on the Israelites' houses, and he would command his angel to "pass over" - to kill no one there. God told Moses that the Israelites were to repeat the meal each spring on the anniversary of their departure from Egypt. The Jews keep the festival of Passover to this day.

Click 
HERE  to learn more about Peach / Passover.  

Previous Month's Definition is

Zayith (zay' yith)    
Olive tree; olive.  Origin of uncertain derivation.

Click  HERE  t o see the entire Hebrew Help Glossary!   
Read this month's 
FEATURED ARTICLE

Pesach 
 (The Passover)



HOW CAN I STAND FOR ISRAEL?
 
Since the Banquet, many have ask me, "What can I do for Israel?"  While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few suggestions I hope you find useful:

1. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Psa.122:6)
    "For Zion's Sake I Will Not Be Silent" by Rebecca Brimmer is an excellent guide on
    prayer for Israel. Click HERE for more info.

2. Learn more about Israel-related ministries
    There are wonderful Israel-related ministries doing a great work to support Israel. Click HERE to learn more about a few of them.

3. Learn more about the Hebraic Roots to Christianity
    The Bible often takes on deeper meaning in the context of its Hebraic Roots. The
     Ancient Hebrew Scroll project at the CHF is a testimony to this fact. There are
     numerous writings about Hebraic Roots. A good place to start is the book by
     D. Thomas Lancaster entitled Grafted In.  

4. Take a trip to Israel     I've been blessed to travel to Israel many times.  It has
    changed my life. I baptized my daughter, Lauren, in the Sea of Galilee during my trip
    there in 2011. She had accepted Jesus as her Savior 3 days before we left. This
    should be at the top of any bucket list!

5. Be an Israel contact person for your church
    The vision at JCFI is to increase the awareness of Israel within the churches of
    Johnson County. Maybe you could support your pastor by volunteering to be the
    church's Israel contact person for JCFI. 

6. Build a Bridge of Hope
    Speak with your Pastor / Church Leaders about building a BOH.  Feel free to
    contact me for more info by phone at 817-556-1061 or by email  at                                 bentley_kevin@sbcglobal.net.


Kevin Bentley, JCFI Director
2 North Caddo Street, Cleburne, Tx 76031
817-556-1061